25 January 2009

Disability and Chronic Illness

Deborah Pipas
BellaOnline's Disabilities Editor

Chronic illness or a disability brings about many changes in the lives of all who have the experience should it be personal or experienced through someone else. Initially each individual must work through many emotions such as anger, resentment, fear, anxiety and depression just to name a few. Once this has been accomplished it is time to move on to learning and mastering new skills that may be required daily. It is a challenging step to realize that help may be required from others. For those who experience disability or chronic illness it often becomes necessary to learn how to ask for help. This is often more difficult for someone who has always been independent to learn to do.Those who discover they are chronically ill or newly disabled are often shocked and surprised to learn that places that had been a part of their daily lives may have become more difficult to access. Friends, coworkers or acquaintances just don’t know how to approach the newly disabled person anymore for fear of saying something offensive. It is necessary to understand that all who are affected by disability whatever their role may be must have time to adjust. Some will remain a part of the lives of the disabled or chronically ill person while others will not. From every resource on this subject it appears that it is not about how much the disabled person is cared for but more about the ability of others to deal with disability and chronic illness.Disability and chronic illness affects the ability to support oneself financially. Some may have to make a choice to give up their job/career and draw disability income when they learn they will no longer be able to work. While others may find they can continue to work but must be satisfied to work fewer hours or change to a different type of employment.

This in turn changes their lifestyle tremendously including everything from friendships to income level. Disability and chronic illness is a very personal experience and each person deals with it in their own unique way. For those that are in the caregiver role it is a complicated time as well. Daily interactions with others change as do previously held positions of family members. Often family members must become the caregiver which greatly influences their personal lifestyle. It is a time of adjustment and learning for all involved.All who become disabled or chronically ill will need time to come to terms with the changes that lie ahead. For all who are changed by disability or chronic illness it is necessary to remember that while the transition is complicated there will be life after the diagnosis of disability or chronic illness.

The family and/or caregivers will be called upon to consistently reassure them that they are not alone. We must encourage them not to dwell on the past but to move forward to a new way of life and hope in the future. Disability is a life changing event and in most cases the individual will never be able to go back to the way they were prior to the diagnosis. We must discourage self pity as it is destructive and slows down the process. With our help our disabled/chronically ill loved ones can learn to live more independently. All of this requires a great deal of patience for all involved.Matthew 6: 25 – 3425"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 2 7Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow.

They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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